How to Improve Healthcare Facilities and Plant Operations Management with a Modern CMMS
Most healthcare facilities today have a Healthcare Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software solution in place to help ensure a safe Environment of Care, as well as reduce asset downtime and organize maintenance workflows. However, many are legacy CMMS solutions that primarily handle work order management, do not integrate with other systems throughout the organization and lead to a cycle of waste and redundancy. Like most technology, a healthcare CMMS software can become outdated, which will cost you in the long run.
Today’s healthcare organizations are providing services and seeing razor-thin operating margins. Every manual process a Healthcare Facilities Management (HFM) department employs increases costs and impacts this thin margin. While the modern world is always moving towards digital connectivity and electronic infrastructure, most HFM departments are still relying on physical, manual labor to accomplish their missions.
To keep up with the times, healthcare systems need to modernize their facility management software, or CMMS, to improve mobile capabilities, reporting and analytics and automate workflows between departments. It is also critical that the CMMS go far beyond work order management and are able to manage cybersecurity initiatives, full asset lifecycle and capital planning, and time and attendance data for financial planning.
A truly modern healthcare facility management CMMS software solution can connect and transform your Healthcare Facilities Management (HFM) department, transform the patient experience, comply with Environment of Care (EOC) rounds to ensure infection control and provide ongoing compliance with policies, laws and regulations.
Common Challenges Hospital Facilities and Plant Operations Departments Face
In addition to having an outdated legacy CMMS, many healthcare Facilities/Plant Operations departments do not use the software or have departments that still print the majority of their work orders, carry clipboards and pens, record activities on printed log sheets and store completed activities within large three-ring binders in a storage room. Facilities/Plant Operations often argue that it is faster to write on paper than to scroll through electronic records or that it is much easier to carry paper versus handling a tablet, so why change now?
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on America’s healthcare infrastructure and operating margins, and there are growing concerns about cybersecurity risks, the effects of the aging workforce and regulatory compliance.
Shrinking Hospital Margins
According to Kaufman Hall's September 2020 National Hospital Flash Report, hospital operating margins are down 7.9 percent since the start of 2020 through August, in comparison to the same period in 2019, excluding funding from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Even with government financial assistance, hospital operating margins are down 2.3 percent through August, compared with the first eight months of 2019.
Aging Healthcare Facilities and Plant Operations Workforce
Health facilities and plant operations department are being asked to do more with less. At the same time, hospitals all over the country are facing the problem of an aging technician workforce. There soon will not be enough technicians to maintain and service their growing pool of critical equipment, and there are not enough young people entering the field. The average age of healthcare technicians is 51, up from 49. While modern automation can bridge the gap, qualified technicians are still needed.
These days, most hospital equipment and building control systems are connected to the network, including regular and emergency power supplies, HVAC, lighting, water and sewer control, elevators, communications, access control, security systems and security cameras. Hackers may exploit equipment with older operating software as a pathway into the organization’s networks to steal sensitive patient information and research data. For instance, in a worst-case scenario, a mission-critical or life support system, such as power, HVAC or elevator controls, could be disrupted, causing an interference with care delivery and affecting patient safety.
In 2019, the healthcare industry continued to be plagued by data breaches involving sensitive patient information, with public reports of hacking jumping a staggering 48.6% from 2018. In 2019 alone, the healthcare sector saw 41.4 million patient records breached, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer. For comparison, the industry saw just 15 million records breached in 2018, with 30 percent of ransomware attacks that year still because of the notorious 2017 Wannacry breach.
These types of cyberattacks continue and are only expected to increase. As recently as September 2020, several cyberattacks worldwide on hospitals and health systems forced computer systems offline and encrypted hospital servers. Some of these health systems had more than 25 locations. Procedures were cancelled nationwide, and it was reported that one patient may have died in a German hospital due to the breaches.
Compliance is a critical concern in every aspect of the healthcare industry, and particularly the maintenance of facilities. When accrediting organizations, such as The Joint Commission, arrive onsite for surveys, they examine everything and anything that impacts patient care, including facilities-related elements such as cleanliness, clearly marked and accessible exits, the facility's ability to minimize the effects of smoke and heat, safety equipment maintenance and so much more. Every day of the year, healthcare facilities management teams must be proactive about these compliance concerns. Once an inspection or survey is underway, it is too late to address facilities-related deficiencies.
Environment of Care (EoC)
Knowing what is going on within the Environment of Care (EoC) is critical to successfully maintaining safe and reliable spaces. Building automation, fire monitoring, emergency power, water management, and air management all rely on technology resources and are critically important to ensure a safe, controlled and comfortable EOC.
For example, accidentally switching off the power to a light source in the grand scheme of things is relatively small, with little impact. However, when you inadvertently turn off the network used by your fire suppression monitoring system, you are exposing patients, visitors and staff to a higher risk of injury. Without a proper Interim Life Safety Measures assessment in place, your organization can face regulatory violations.
Although progress is being made to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAI), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates one in 31 hospital patients acquires at least one HAI.
The physical environment is fourth on the list of HAI causes, according to the CDC. Hospitals must consider how they can improve the maintenance and management of facilities to reduce infection risks.
Your healthcare system can mitigate infection risk by properly scheduling and maintaining environmental systems, improving equipment utilization and staff request fulfillment times, and applying consistent medical equipment cleaning and disinfecting processes.
In addition to these challenges, healthcare systems often face:
- Lack of real-time visibility into equipment inventory, asset tracking and work order history.
- Lack of understanding of the true cost of ownership of medical assets to make optimal asset management decisions.
- Not having data to support Alternative Equipment Maintenance programs.
- Perceived medical equipment shortages often prompting unneeded equipment rentals or purchases.
- Delayed equipment and service requests causing patient safety and compliance problems.
- Lack of accurate reliability data to drive the best medical equipment selection.
- Failure to consistently focus on high priority work due to broken workflow systems.
- Frequent reactive rather than preventive maintenance and service requests.
Healthcare systems are employing a variety of strategies to combat shrinking margins and rising costs. Many hospitals and health systems have reduced costs and efficiencies at the margins of their organizations, but long-term sustainability may require a fundamental, digital transformation of the way that services are organized and delivered. A modern healthcare CMMS can help.
When it is Time to Upgrade to a Modern Healthcare CMMS for HFM
A CMMS that was great to start with may not have the ability to hold up over time or through any major business changes, especially digital transformation of a healthcare system. Keeping a diligent eye out for the signs of a limited system will make it apparent when you need to replace your maintenance solution.
Although reasons to replace a legacy CMMS for a modern healthcare CMMS are usually straightforward, it is not always apparent that your maintenance solution is falling behind, and any loss of forward progress can set your maintenance ROI on an unexpected downturn.
Here are signs that will let you know it is time to replace your maintenance solution:
- Lack of real-time visibility.
- Compliance issues.
- Outdated paper processes.
- Lagging work orders.
- Inadequate integration capabilities.
Why Digital Transformation is Critical for Healthcare Facilities and Plant Operations Management
In today’s healthcare business environment, electronic record keeping is the norm. Patient records, appointment bookings, visibility of upcoming events, personnel records, procurement activities and even food management for patients are all submitted, fulfilled and retained electronically. However, most healthcare facilities/plant operations departments still rely on paper records, even if they have a legacy CMMS system.
Going digital and analyzing digital records allows HFM organizations to consume benchmarking data at many levels, by:
- Equipment type, location and age.
- Comparing personnel to industry averages for performing PM or repetitive functions.
- Identifying potentially troublesome vendors.
- Comparing similar vendors to identify the best one.
A modern healthcare CMMS and digital records benefit a healthcare system with efficiency gains, accuracy gains, accountability gains and consumption gains, as well as the ability to benchmark data.
The ability to determine the average turn-around time for specific job types can allow HFM departments to schedule repair activities instead of always being reactive. Accessing digital records of past maintenance activities and combining that data with a forecast of future scheduled activities also allows an HFM department to provide definitive data on budget forecasts and manpower needs, as often the biggest consumption gains surround budgets and staffing needs.
How a Modern Healthcare CMMS Helps with Regulatory Compliance
If you have a legacy maintenance solution, you probably already track the warranties, inspections, routine maintenance and repair history of your equipment. However, if keeping up with compliance codes and industry regulations is more of a manual process, you may want to consider replacing your maintenance solution.
A modern Healthcare CMMS can automate compliance tasks by setting notifications, scheduling routine maintenance, tracking a repair history log and organizing important documents (e.g., equipment manuals, spec sheets, ID tags) for each of your assets. This not only saves healthcare facility managers time and can boost compliance rates, it will also make inspections and audits a breeze since everything is documented and easily accessible.
Since Healthcare Facilities Maintenance (HFM) departments must comply with hundreds of regulations—including those involving equipment, grounds, structures, staff and spaces—it is critical to have a CMMS/EAM that can identify, document, record and report on these items to maintain efficient and compliant operations.
How a Modern CMMS Can Streamline Healthcare Facilities and Plant Operations
Healthcare facilities have a lot of medical equipment and confidential data that needs to be managed efficiently. Any inefficiency in managing vital infrastructure equipment and living space can not only affect employee productivity but also increase the liability risk. This calls for a modern computerized maintenance management system that goes beyond documentation and work order management.
A modern healthcare CMMS software solution streamlines healthcare facilities/plant operations maintenance management functions and will:
- Consolidate HFM, HTM, supply chain and IT onto one platform.
- Automate and streamline service request workflows.
- Identify and manage equipment spend more efficiently using real-world data to improve margins.
- Automated dispatch and Time & Attendance transparency.
- Modernize and simplify the way technicians work with mobile capabilities.
- Build automation with drag and drop workflow and report creation.
- Automate preventive maintenance and alternative equipment maintenance.
- Improved Equipment Lifecycle Capital Planning
Why Integrate Healthcare Facilities and Plant Operations Departments
Most healthcare facilities management (HFM) departments utilize multiple computer programs to monitor the environment of care (EoC).
Building Automation Systems (BAS), tube system monitoring, fire system monitoring, water system monitoring, capital planning, time keeping and more, are all utilized daily to monitor the EoC and critical utility systems. However, these systems are usually not digitally connected, requiring workers to perform the manual supervision. When there is an issue, manual actions are also required to get the right team member(s) activated.
A modern healthcare CMMS will help with:
- Speed of response.
- Accuracy of records.
- Historical analysis.
- Reduced costs.
An integrated HFM department can make a dramatic, positive improvement to any healthcare organization through reduced costs, higher accuracy, faster response, better healthcare asset management and increased customer service.
Today's technology leaves little reason to keep HFM systems disconnected, and the implicit cost savings of integrating multi-tenant healthcare systems makes it hard to ignore.
What to Look for in the Best Modern Healthcare CMMS Solutions
The best healthcare CMMS software solutions are mobile-enabled and web-based CMMS solutions that manage all aspects of facilities asset management, work order management, financials and expenses, preventive maintenance, risk and compliance reporting, the Environment of Care and more. A modern healthcare CMMS provides:
- Full asset lifecycle management from pre-assessment, acquisition, support to final disposition and data insights.
- Ability to build flexible workflows with a configurable rules engine – without code or SQL.
- Predictive analytics to allow for AEM implementation.
- Robust and updated capital planning data.
- Improved communication between Facilities, Operations and IT teams.
- Big data for better analytics.
- Connected systems and automated process integrations with Building Automation Systems, Supply Chain, ERPs and Time and Attendance.
- Proactively protect medical equipment against cyber threats.
How Accruent Can Help
Healthcare organizations that leverage advanced CMMS and Asset Management technology can breakdown operational silos. In addition, systems that employ these software solutions have lower associated costs, improve the Environment of Care, and offer patients, visitors and staff a better and safer experience.
Watch the Connectiv Demo for Healthcare Facilities Departments.
Beyond technology, Accruent experts are available to evaluate your current processes, key performance indicators and highlight step-by-step improvement recommendations to make your Healthcare Facilities and Biomedical Departments a Strategic Asset.